Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cake Collaborations: Not For Me.

I'll say it, I'm not very interested in cake collaborations. And I know that I'm not alone in this.

Now before you get offended and assume that I'm talking about the one that YOU participated in, I'm not talking about one in particular. These days it wouldn't matter when I posted this, because chances are that another one would have just come out regardless of when this post went up. I actually rescheduled this a couple of times to try to NOT have it go up around any collaborations, but that ended up being impossible.
Just hanging out on its own

Impossible, because there are just soooooo many of them. It seems like there's a new one every other day. They started out as a way to try to get publicity for the participants, and for the collaboration to go viral etc. etc., but it's gotten to the point where they've morphed into non-events that are promoted as events. There are so many pictures of cakes online already, you don't need a collaboration to see a theme, just go to google images and type the theme in. And I don't spend much time looking at cakes anyway, if I can help it.

I can understand that some are for charity. How you raise money that way I'm not sure, but more power to you if it works. 

These collaborations are not for me because I'll be the first to say that I'm not much of a "joiner." After going through grad school I hate group projects, so the idea of doing a collaboration like this doesn't appeal to me at all. I also don't have a whole lot of time to do extra cakes for no good reason, since I'm usually doing this thing called "working for pay."

(I'll mention that I do have a project coming up that's a business collaboration, but it's with one person, so it's more of a contribution to her project...and it's writing, not decorating. More on that later, but click here for a hint.)

I can see how people think that collaborations are an opportunity to do something different, since the vast majority of paid cakes aren't "art" cakes, and a lot of cake decorators want to think of themselves as artists. But when I see cakes that are basically copies of a dress, or a painting, or whatever, I have a hard time thinking of that as being innovative since it's basically copying something that someone else created first. Perhaps the creativity for the person doing it comes from trying a new technique or using a new material? 

I do a lot of random but purposeful display cakes that I either use to demo new molds or designs, or to give to other wedding businesses as props for their stores. When I do those I get my creative heebie jeebies out because I can do what I want to, so my assumption is that that's what most of the participants in collaborations are doing. They're just doing it within a framework and in a group. (Did I mention that I hate group projects?)

So no group projects for me, but I do highly recommend doing projects for your own amusement, within your own parameters. Make up your own theme and go for it...If you decide to switch direction halfway through, go for that! Be creative and have fun with no rules.

And if you just love the idea of group projects and are sad that nobody has asked you to do a collaboration with them, start your own.

There are two sides to the business of cakes. I've written about this many times before, so you've probably heard it already. But the first is the bakery business side, where you own a business that sells actual cakes to the paying public. The other is the demo-cake side, which might involve no actual cake at all, just structures made of PVC and styrofoam that are covered with fondant, and the sale of classes or tutorials to other decorators. Both cake business, different business models. Collaborations are obviously going to be more on the demo-cake side since the designs are meant for looking, not eating.

What I'd like to see is those two sides morph together, with a collaboration theme of "cakes that people are willing to pay for and really want at their events." I'm more interested in seeing photos of cakes that people are actually buying so that I can track trends. What sells in my area might not be popular somewhere else, so I'm curious about what people are actually paying for.

If you've participated in a cake collaboration and enjoyed it, feel free to disagree with me and tell me the good things about them. What did you get out of it? Good points, bad points? Let me know, leave a comment below. 

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

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